Opinion AGO 07-1001(2009).

Case Date:August 17, 2009
Court:California
 
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California Attorney General Opinions 2009. Opinion AGO 07-1001(2009). TO BE PUBLISHED IN THE OFFICIAL REPORTS OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL State of California EDMUND G. BROWN JR. Attorney General No. 07-1001August 17, 2009EDMUND G. BROWN JR. Attorney General MARC J. NOLAN Deputy Attorney GeneralTHE HONORABLE JAMES F. PENMAN, PROSECUTING CITY ATTORNEY FOR THE CITY OF SAN BERNARDINO, has requested an opinion on the following question::May a badge that resembles a peace officer's badge be provided to and displayed by a public employee who is not a peace officer, but who has been granted limited peace officer powers in order to perform his or her official duties, for use as identification in the course and scope of those official duties?CONCLUSIONS A badge that resembles a peace officer's badge may be provided to and displayed by a public employee who is not a peace officer, but who has been granted limited peace officer powers in order to perform his or her official duties, for use as identification in the course and scope of those official duties, provided that the badge accurately identifies the public employee by his or her specific limited-powers position. ANALYSIS In 2007, we concluded that giving an honorary badge to a private citizen who has no peace officer authority would violate California law, specifically Penal Code section 538d(c),(fn1) if the badge so closely resembles a genuine peace officer badge that it is likely to deceive "an ordinary reasonable person" into believing that the holder is a peace officer.(fn2) In that opinion, we noted that the gift of such a badge does not confer peace officer status on the recipient, nor does it give him or her any of the authority or powers of a peace officer.(fn3) The question now arises how our 2007 opinion would affect, if at all, public employees or officers who are not classified as "peace officers," but who nonetheless possess limited peace officer powers. In the case at hand, a charter city has authorized a number of its employees to exercise limited peace officer powers pursuant to Penal Code section 836.5.(fn4) Among them are environmental control officers, the director of water reclamation, environmental control technicians, city attorney investigators, parking district security officers, code compliance officers, refuse field inspectors, the director of animal control, animal license checkers, animal shelter attendants, animal health technicians, animal control officers, business license inspectors, and parking enforcement officers. The city has granted all of the designated classifications the authority to issue citations for violations of the laws they are charged with enforcing, and has granted many (but not all) of them the authority to make arrests for such violations.(fn5) In light of our 2007 opinion, we are asked whether these employees may properly possess and display badges that resemble those issued to full-status peace officers. For the reasons that follow, we conclude that such badges may be provided to and displayed by these limited-powers officers for use in the course and scope of their duties. We have previously distinguished between attaining the ...

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